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19 November 1998

TRANSCRIPT: COHEN/ROBERTSON PRESS CONFERENCE NOVEMBER 19, 1998

(Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, NKorea, defense industry, Y2K)  (2610)



Secretary of Defense Cohen and the UK's Secretary of State for Defense
Robertson held a press conference at the Pentagon November 19.


Following is the Pentagon transcript:



(begin transcript)



DoD News Briefing

Thursday, November 19, 1998

Presenters: US Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Secretary of
State for Defense George Robertson, United Kingdom

.....................

Q: Mr. Cohen, if I could speak to the impending crisis with North
Korea over their underground facility, as they told Mr. Kartman
yesterday would not be open for inspection. I would like your reaction
to that.


And also to the change of the new war plan that has been revealed for
Korea. Could you speak to that? Are you in favor of a plan that
basically will check North Korea's military?


SECRETARY COHEN: First, with respect to Mr. Kartman, I believe he
stated that he did not expect to resolve this issue during the first
meeting he had with the North Koreans. But I might add that this is
not something that can go on indefinitely. This is a subject matter
which needs to be addressed.


As I've said before, we're concerned about reports that we've had
about the developments in North Korea as to whether they are complying
with the agreed framework. We are going to need inspection of the site
or sites that might be involved. And absent a compliance or an
agreement to do that, then it will call very much into question the
agreed framework itself. So we are going to continue to press that
issue and it would be my hope and expectation that the North Koreans
would see the wisdom of agreeing to comply with our own needs.


With respect to a war plan, I really can't talk about war plans with
respect to North Korea, only to say that it would be a grave mistake
for the North Koreans to attack the South.


Q: Mr. Secretary, there have been reports on North Korea that the
United States and South Korea have found indications of plutonium in
the soil, in the water around some of the suspected sites.


Number one, is that true? And number two, if you choose not to address
that issue what would that indicate if it were true?


SECRETARY COHEN: I cannot address the issue since it's an intelligence
matter, but again it raises concerns. Any time we have concerns about
compliance with the agreed framework then it's a very serious matter.
So we will continue to press for complete openness on the part of the
North Koreans pertaining to their course of conduct dealing with the
agreed framework, but I can't comment on what the reports have been in
the press.



......................


Press:  Thank you.



(end transcript)